Inaugural Top Chef Award Dinner raises $42,000 for prestigious culinary internships

From left: RRC student Nicole Boudreau, Chef Takashi Murakami, and RRC student Alex Wong.

From left: Culinary Arts student Nicole Boudreau, Chef Takashi Murakami, and Culinary Arts student Alex Wong.

Fun, food and philanthropy were on the menu at last week’s inaugural Top Chef Award Dinner, where Red River College honoured a Canadian culinary icon, while helping provide educational opportunities for the next crop of industry stars.

Held April 17 at The Fort Garry Hotel, the event gave RRC a chance to celebrate the lifetime achievements of Chef Takashi Murakami, executive chef at St. Charles Golf and Country Club, and an internationally recognized cuisinier.

Widely hailed as one of the most talented chefs in Canada, Japanese-born Chef Murakami has spent the last 40 years elevating food preparation to an art form at St. Charles.

During that time, he’s also picked up an impressive array of industry awards and honours, among them a series of gold medals (and a World Championship) as a member and coach of Culinary Team Canada, a Chef of the Year designation by the Manitoba Chefs Association, membership in the Canadian Culinary Federation’s Honour Society, and a 2005 appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada.

“He has taken the art of food preparation to astounding new levels and along the way has mentored and developed thousands of graduates from RRC’s Culinary Arts program,” said RRC President Stephanie Forsyth. “It’s very hard to find a chef who hasn’t in some way benefited from Chef Takashi’s experience.”

In addition to his many accolades, Chef Murakami also served for 10 years on the advisory committee of RRC’s Culinary Arts program.

“My involvement in the Canadian culinary community and RRC has been a labour of love, since my arrival in Calgary from Japan in 1970, and … since I arrived at St. Charles Country Club here in Winnipeg in 1975,” said Chef Murakami.

“Two decades ago … I was offered a job in a larger city but I realized Winnipeg offered a great amount of opportunity for the profession. I realized also that you don’t have to be in a larger city to be the best you can be.”

The event was generously sponsored by The Fort Garry Hotel, in support of a four-month internship at the renowned Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France. Each year, all proceeds raised will enable two students from RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts to intern abroad at one of the world’s leading centre’s of French gastronomy.

This year's event raised $42,000 through ticket sales and live and silent auctions. Culinary Arts students Nicole Boudreau and Alex Wong (shown above) are the hard-working recipients of this summer's internships.

Click here to view a photo gallery from the event, and here for more information on RRC’s Culinary Arts program.